Winners 2024

Congratulations to the winners of the 2024 Northern Writers’ Awards, who were announced on Tuesday 25 June 2024

Northern Writers' Award for Fiction

  • Jane Claire Bradley

    Jane Claire Bradley is a queer, working-class writer, performer, therapist and educator. Jane writes fiction, essays and performance poetry, usually about some combination of queerness, class, mental health, magic, and identity. She is the author of a novel, Dear Neighbour (2023) and two fiction chapbooks, Truth or Dare (2021) and Lost + Found (2024). She has been published in a long list of anthologies, essay collections and literary journals, including The Modern Craft (Watkins, 2022), So Long As You Write: Women on Writing (Dear Damsels, 2022) and Test Signal (Bloomsbury/Dead Ink, 2021). Jane is a previous winner of a Northern Debut Award from New Writing North, and is currently the first ever writer-in-residence for Queer Amusements, a new queer arts festival based in Blackpool. 

    “New Writing North have done more to empower and support my writing journey and career than any other organisation. Winning a Northern Debut Award in 2019 was the catalyst for massive development and change in my writing craft and career, and I attribute my subsequent successes in large part to the recognition and support of that award. So I’m thrilled and so grateful to be receiving this award, which will make a massive difference to my resources and momentum as I develop my current manuscript.” 

Northern Debut Awards for Fiction

  • Beth L. Thompson

    Beth L. Thompson is an award-winning writer of fiction and poetry from Liverpool. Beth studied English Literature at the University of Liverpool and gained her MA in Writing from the University of Warwick before graduating from Faber Academy’s Writing a Novel course. In 2024, she was awarded a Northern Debut Award for Fiction by New Writing North for her novel in progress, Scouse Graffiti. The novel also won the 2023 Stockholm Writers Festival First 5 Pages Prize and was longlisted for The Literary Consultancy’s 2022 Pen Factor Prize. Beth’s poetry has been published by The Emma Press.  

    “I’m honoured to have won a Northern Debut Award and thrilled to be able to further develop my writing with guidance from New Writing North. Receiving support from an organisation so committed to platforming stories and voices not yet heard in the mainstream is especially meaningful as this is everything I aim to do with my fiction.” 

  • Cindy Withjack

    Cindy Withjack is a neurodiverse PhD researcher studying English Literature and Creative Writing. In conjunction with completing a novel, her thesis focuses on sincerity and trauma writing within millennial art and literature. Cindy’s other research interests include poetry, experimental narrative, intergenerational trauma, identity politics, and Dominican American history and culture. She holds a Master of Arts in Creative Writing from the University of Birmingham, a Bachelor of Humanities in English and Creative Writing, and an Associate of Arts in Visual Arts. A Yorkshire resident for almost a decade, Cindy has interned with Atlantic Books, led university seminars, created a year-long creative writing workshop, and co-organised an EDI conference. She has been invited to conferences as a chair and panelist, judged writing awards, and worked as a freelance editor, interviewer, and writer for various literary magazines. Cindy is a bookseller and social media manager for an independent bookshop. 

    “Writing is solitary by nature, so I am honoured to be recognised for my novel-in-progress. Emancipated as a young adult, I’ve had an unusual personal and professional trajectory, and I’ve never been financially comfortable enough to focus entirely on my studies or my writing. Winning the Northern Debut Award for Fiction is not only creatively meaningful, it also provides much appreciated financial assistance and space to complete my novel.”

Northern Debut Award for Young Adult Fiction

  • Letty Sharpe

    Letty Sharpe is a writer of young adult fantasy and retellings from the North East of England. She was longlisted for Penguin Random House’s WriteNow scheme in 2018 for a sapphic Peter Pan retelling. Her current work in progress is a dark academia fantasy novel with witchy vibes and sapphic enemies to lovers. When she’s not writing, Letty works full time as a secondary school English teacher, fostering a love of creative writing in the classroom. She can be found on Twitter @LettySWrites. 

    “Despite my love of writing, the voice in my head kept telling me that it would never happen. I would never be good enough to be an author. But winning this Northern Writers’ Award has given me the boost of confidence I need to take my manuscript to the next level. I finally feel comfortable saying it: I am a writer.” 

Northern Writers' Awards for Poetry

  • Lucy Burnett

    Lucy Burnett is a poetry and creative non-fiction writer, with three published poetry collections (Leaf Graffiti and Tripping Over Clouds with Carcanet, One Step Sideways and 13 Down with Guillemot) and one hybrid travel novel (Through the Weather Glass, Knives Forks & Spoons). In 2016 she toured an interactive installation version of Through the Weather Glass around the North of England; from 2021 to 2023 she developed Scree: An Online Guidebook to Reimagining the Lake District Fells ( She currently works as a Creative Writing lecturer at Lancaster University; she has also worked in the arts industry, as Director of StAnza International Poetry Festival and Centre Director of Arvon Lumb Bank, and is an experienced writing tutor / mentor. Her writing is frequently informed by environmental concerns; previously Lucy worked as an environmental campaigner. Originally from SW Scotland, these days she splits her time between Cockermouth and Todmorden. 

    “I am absolutely thrilled to win this award, and the time it will give me to continue developing The Long Wood. The new collection-in-progress marks a significant change in direction for my writing, towards more personal themes which I’ve previously shied away from, so it is wonderful to both receive this mark of approval, and also the opportunity to give the work the time it deserves. I’m incredibly grateful to New Writing North and the other sponsors of this prize for organising a prize aimed at unfinished work rather than the finished article.” 

  • Roma Havers

    Roma Havers is a queer poet and theatre-maker based in Manchester, Roma uses archives and conversation to imagine and build worlds around questions of queer inheritance, what happens after survival and what it means to decipher a myth with no origin. As a poet they have been commissioned by many organisations including Manchester Histories, Orchestras Live, and Factory International. They have been published in Ink Sweat and Tears, Verve Poetry Prize (Shortlisted), The North and Under the Radar. Their poetry show LOB toured the North West and Belfast in 2022, and they were longlisted for the Bruntwood Playwriting prize the same year. Roma currently works as Learning Manager at Manchester Poetry Library.

    “It means a huge amount to me to be recognised in this way, this is my tenth year of living and writing in the North and the northern writers in my community have been vital to my growth and development. This has arrived at just the right time for me, as the pressures of full-time work have really impacted my ability to write for the last three years. I am hugely grateful to the Northern Writers’ Awards for believing in my work, it’s such a precious thing to receive. I am very excited for the future.”  

Northern Debut Awards for Poetry

  • Tom Branfoot

    Tom Branfoot is the writer-in-residence at Manchester Cathedral and a recipient of the New Poets Prize 2022. He organises the poetry reading series More Song in Bradford. Tom is the author of This Is Not an Epiphany (Smith|Doorstop) and boar (Broken Sleep Books), both published in 2023.  

    “Winning a Northern Writers’ Award for Volatile – a book about crisis, birdwatching, class, environment, and dwelling rooted in West Yorkshire landscapes – is a privilege. Thank you to the judges for choosing my work-in-progress; I look forward to refining and developing the collection with mentoring.” 

  • Jazmine Linklater

    Jazmine Linklater is a poet and writer living in Manchester, where she works for Carcanet Press and edits the online art journal Corridor8. Her most recent pamphlet is Figure a Motion (Guillemot Press, 2020).  

    “Working in publishing, I must have entered hundreds of literary awards on behalf of our authors over the years, so it felt particularly berserk to read an awards email addressed to me! It’s so wild that these poets I admire have said yes to this work. It feels like I’ve been given the permission I struggle to give myself sometimes. I’m immensely grateful and very much looking forward to the mentoring element of the award, and seeing what happens over the course of the next year.” 

  • Callan Waldron-Hall

    Callan Waldron-Hall is a Liverpool-based writer. His debut pamphlet, learning to be very soft (Smith|Doorstop, 2020), won The Poetry Business 2018/19 New Poets Prize. His poems have appeared in Magma, The North, The Rialto, Bath Magg, Ink Sweat & Tears, Hit Points (Broken Sleep Books) and in Weird Sensation Feels Good, Design Museum. He has worked with organisations such as Liverpool Independents Biennial and OUTPUT Gallery, and has written for The Poetry Review and Corridor8. 

    “I am so thrilled and grateful to receive a Northern Writers’ Award. The judges seeing the potential in my writing is incredibly affirming and I’m excited to access the resources available to develop my manuscript. It’s a real privilege to be considered alongside so many incredible writers. I’m very thankful to the judges and to New Writing North for this opportunity. I can’t wait to get started!” 

Hachette Children's Novel Awards

  • Sophie Clarke

    Sophie is an English teacher (for her sins) from Lancashire. For 8 years she lived and worked in South Korea, Vietnam, and Qatar, until she decided that no one’s company is quite as good as her grandma’s, so she came home. Sophie holds a BA in English from Edinburgh Napier University and an MA in Creative Writing from Lancaster University. Coming from a working-class family, she aims for her writing to tackle big themes accessibly and for her characters to represent the many wonderful people she’s met on her travels. When she’s not writing or teaching, she enjoys running silly distances in hilly places, as well as dreaming of having a sausage dog called Dave.  

    “It is such an honour to have been chosen for this award. I’m so passionate about representing the North — as well as including characters from working class backgrounds — within my fiction, so receiving an award from New Writing North feels emblematic of that. As for the novel I submitted, it is very close to my heart; I can’t wait to work alongside such talented editors and writers to see where we can take it.” 

  • Gavin Crippin

    Gavin Crippin is a writer living in Manchester. When Gavin isn’t being berated by his nine-year-old daughter for his poor grammar, he champions social care and environmental literacy for Manchester City Council. He also worries about his tortoise. In a previous life he ran his own theatre company and in 2015 gained a place on a writers’ programme at The Royal Court, London. Gavin has had two short stories published and is a regular contributor for the national Rugby League magazine, Forty20. In 2023, his debut middle grade novel The Sidewinders was awarded an honourable mention in the WriteMentor Novel-in-Development Award and in 2024 he was awarded the Hachette Children’s Award for the same piece of work. 

    “I feel unbelievably honoured and humbled to win this award. I came 3rd in a Karate competition when I was eight, so it’s been quite a long time between drinks, in terms of podium placing. I want to thank each and every one of the judging panel for seeing something in my little mate Tom’s story, and the worlds we’re creating together. Having just one other person see something worth persevering with, in your work, is what every writer really wants. I’m very excited to see where the journey takes us over the next 12 months with the support of New Writing North. I can’t wait to get started. Whatever comes next you can be sure I’ll do my best to do the north and the award proud.” 

Northumbria University Student and Alumni Award

  • Stephen McGowan

    Stephen is an emerging author of speculative fiction, spoken-word poet, freelance editor, and Jolly Rancher enthusiast. He has studied both a BA and MA in creative writing at Northumbria University, becoming a first-generation graduate in 2023. He is a recipient of the Chris K. Jones scholarship for creative writing. His work has been published both online and in print and he is currently working on his first full length manuscript. He blogs, writes reviews, rants about the world, and shares short stories at

    “I am beyond honoured to be receiving a Northern Writers’ Award. New Writing North, and Northumbria University are valued leaders of the northern creative community, and I am looking forward to their assistance in brining my manuscript to publication. Now the real work begins.” 

Tempest Prize

  • Alicia Byrne

    Alicia Byrne is a working-class writer from the North of England. She graduated with a first-class degree in English Literature and Creative Writing and sat down to begin writing her first novel on Christmas Day, 2022. Although her writing often ventures into the tragic, she has always remained a hopeless romantic at heart. Whether romantic, platonic, familial, or otherwise, she asserts that the relationships in a novel, like in life, are the most important thing there is. For all its morbid melancholy, you will find that most of her writing is simply about love.

    “The art we make is so often intimate and vulnerable. Putting it out into the world can be an overwhelmingly daunting experience. To have someone look at that art and say, “Hey, I understand that feeling. I’ve felt that feeling too,” is truly one of the greatest gifts a writer can be given. That is what this award has given me.” 

Sid Chaplin Awards

  • Adam Barrett

    Adam Barrett is a writer from North East England. His prose and poetry are influenced by class, masculinity, politics, history, and the local landscape. He is currently writing his debut novel, He Too Must Sleep, which observes the history of industry and class inequality through the lens of a coal mining community in 1860s County Durham.

    “Sid Chaplin has had a profound influence on my work. It is an honour for his family to have enjoyed my novel and to win an award in Mr Chaplin’s name. Thank you to New Writing North and all involved for the award and the exciting journey it offers.” 

  • Jessica Holmes

    Jess is a fiction writer and sometimes-poet currently living in the North East of England with her husband and Golden Retriever. Born and raised in Sheffield, Jess is passionate about sticking to her roots and writing stories based on the council estate where she grew up. She has always been fascinated by the human condition and her writing is usually centred around the relationships and dynamics between her characters. An avid reader for as long as she can remember, she says books and stories are as vital to her as breathing.  

    “To say I have just won a writing award, it is incredibly ironic that I’m lost for words. I’ll never be able to eloquently express how grateful I am to the judges, donors and everyone involved in the Sid Chaplin Award for choosing me and my novel in progress as this year’s joint winner. I started writing Skinned Knees in 2018 just after my lovely Mam died and I can still remember how scared and confused I was at the time of writing the very first draft. I didn’t understand how I could still be alive when I was in so much pain, so to be redrafting the novel at this point in my life after winning the Sid Chaplin Award really does feel like a full circle moment. I will never forget this feeling. I wish I could bottle it. I wish everyone could feel the way I’m feeling right now. Stuff like this just doesn’t happen to people like me. I know in my heart that winning this award will change my life. I am beyond honoured and grateful and I can’t wait for what’s to come.”

Finchale Award for Short Fiction

  • Abby Walker

    Abby Walker is a County Durham writer, currently in her final year of an MFA with Manchester Writing School. Her work-in-progress is a haunted house, gothic horror novel set in the post-War North East.

    “Finding out I had won this award was truly one of the biggest shocks, and torments, of my life (the notification came through moments before a flight, leaving the email in a half-loaded purgatory for several hours before I could read it). Writing has always been a solitary pursuit for me and to have received recognition for it from such wonderful judges, and from such an incredible organisation as New Writing North, means everything to me. I’m so excited to get to work and see what this next year brings.” 

Arvon Award

  • Laura Tisdall

    Laura Tisdall lives in Northumberland with her springer spaniel. She writes socially-informed sapphic fiction that intersects with the weird, strange and uncanny. Her current novel-in-progress, New Mothers, is about a group of teenage girls living in an isolated Wiltshire hamlet who discover that their fathers have murdered their mothers and replaced them with robots.

    Laura was the runner-up in Hodderscape’s SF Debuts Prize in February 2023, shortlisted for the Word Factory Northern Apprentice Award for short fiction in July 2023, and won second place in the Surrey New Writing Prize in May 2024.

    Laura is a senior lecturer in modern British history at Newcastle University. Her historical research on childhood, adolescence, parenthood and second-wave feminism inspired New Mothers. She is also currently writing a crossover non-fiction book for Yale University Press London, which will tell the history of Cold War Britain through the voices of children and teenagers. 

    “I’m so delighted to have won the Arvon Award! Of course, I can’t wait to have a week of focused writing time at one of Arvon’s beautiful writing houses, but I’m especially overjoyed at this support and validation for my creative work. It means the absolute world.” 

Northern Promise TLC Awards

  • Paula Blair

    Paula Blair is a writer based in Newcastle upon Tyne. In 2022 she was awarded an Arts Council England DYP grant to work on her creative non-fiction writing, specifically on a novel-length manuscript that blends art and culture analysis with memoir. She recently completed New Writing North’s Inkubator programme to train as a workshop facilitator and is keen to keep collaborating with community groups. She co-founded the Newcastle Writing Group that meets monthly in the Tyneside Irish Centre and which aims to foster mutual peer support amongst writers who are more advanced than beginners and might be at various stages of professionalising or publishing their work. Her short story ‘The House of Stopped Clocks’ features in Uncommonalities V: Nobody (Bratum Books, 2024) and she has had articles published online by Photomonitor and The Skeptic. She is @peablair on social media. 

    “The Northern Promise TLC Award changes the game for me. It can be tough to keep going, but I listened to direct and indirect encouragement to keep writing and keep trying, and it was such a wonderful surprise to receive the email saying I’d got it. The tenacity and constant honing of my skills is starting to show returns, and if I can do it then others can too. I’m thrilled that my work will be read by professionals as it feels like the dream of getting it published can shift into aspiration, and that aspiration can become a reality. I’m so grateful, and I’ll work my socks off to make my writing the best it can be for this opportunity.” 

  • Daisy Costello

    Daisy Costello is a young, early career writer from Newcastle. She is currently studying at Newcastle University, towards an MA in Creative Writing. Daisy writes prose fiction about the experience of living under patriarchal capitalism. She is writing her first novel, a work of feminist speculative fiction titled Dollface. Daisy is a proud autistic.

    “I am very grateful to New Writing North for this award. As a young, autistic writer in the earliest stages of my career, the way forward doesn’t always seem clear. So, winning the Northern Promise TLC Award, and getting New Writing North’s financial and literary support, means a great deal to me.” 

Young Northern Writers' Awards 11–14

  • Eeva Tudor – Winner

    Eeva is a secondary school pupil from Northumberland. She loves reading, writing, kickboxing and musical theatre. Her favourite genres of books are horror and fantasy. She is currently in the school choir and also writes for the school newspaper.  

    “I am thrilled to be chosen for this award, I really enjoyed writing this story and I hope the judges enjoyed reading it.” 

  • Yaqub Rahman – Highly Commended

    Yaqub Rahman is Year 6 pupil at Kelvin Grove Primary School in Gateshead.  

Young Northern Writers' Awards 15–18

  • Cory Gourley – Winner

    Cory Gourley is a playwright based in Newcastle whose work explores female anger, the realities of female sex work and the possibilities of power and silence in contemporary stage narratives. He is currently studying English at Newcastle University and has plans to work alongside Alphabetti Theatre and the Royal Court Theatre Writers’ Group (North) in the coming months. His main goal is to get his work developed in a local northern theatre at some point in the near future.

    “Writing about reality, shows pain, writing about pain shows reality, especially in contemporary theatre – winning this award has reminded me of just that.”  

  • Isabella Merino Garzon – Highly Commended

    Isabella Merino is a Venezuelan immigrant who explores her identity, culture and heritage through her writing. Taking part in the Mixing Roots with Hive Young Writers allowed her to honour her homeland, explore her thoughts around being away from her family and write in Spanish, her mother tongue. Following the programme, she was published in Dear Life and We Are Everything and performed her poems at the Leadmill. She was runner up in the World Class Schools Essay Competition for her essay on friendship and has won the BBC Young Reporter competition for her article on food waste and inequality. She finds writing a powerful way to express her thoughts on the world and process the distance from her family and the tumultuous state of her home country. 

    “Being Highly Commended for the Young Northern Writers’ Award has given me confidence in my writing and inspired me to continue to pursue self-expression in this way. I am honoured the judges enjoyed my work and I can’t wait to see where the future of my writing takes me.” 

Matthew Hale Awards

  • Mikhail Ali – Highly Commended